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The Serenity Prayer

In the 1930’s, Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971) developed the Serenity Prayer. The first four lines have become well-known.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

It seems harder and harder to me to find “serenity” in the world today. There is so much going on for us to face, the Coronavirus and hatred/division/partisanship seem to be at the forefront for me.

We need to turn to God. God is the one who can bring us “serenity” in the midst of turmoil. However, serenity doesn’t mean all our problems will disappear. That’s why we pray for God to help us accept the things we cannot change.

I am a fixer. I want to fix everything I can. It can be hard for me to realize that I can’t fix something. I know I am not called to fix everything myself. I just struggle to not let things bother me. I want solutions.

When we are called to change something, we ask for the courage to do what God asks of us. The changes God wants are not popular in this world. It takes courage.

I pray that God give me the wisdom to know what it is that He wants me to do.

So, that’s the first four lines of the Serenity Prayer. Did you know that there is more? Here’s the entire prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 
Amen.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the prayer.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at time
Do you live in the moment? I am always looking ahead to plan and prepare for what is coming next. It is good to prepare ourselves for what is coming but we also need to embrace what God is offering us in the present moment. There is an appointed time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I know I generally find the greatest peace when I am focused on the present moment (not multitasking). We balance what is going on in the moment with hope for the future.

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
We would like everything to be easy yet we know we must take up our cross and follow Jesus. Sometimes we spend a lot of effort avoiding hardship (suffering) when we can find the greatest peace when we accept the hardship and let God be with us in the hardship.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it
Sometimes I think if I could just change….everything would be better. At times, God does indeed call us to work for change. However, even then we must begin by meeting people where they are at.

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will
I must do my part. My part begins with surrendering to God’s Will. I must only do my part and leave the rest to God. I must let God be God. What God said to Jeremiah, He also says to us, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). God has a plan. We place our trust in him.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next
When we look for serenity in this world, we need to realize that we will not find perfect happiness in this earthly world. It is not what we are ultimately created for. We find peace in this world when we realize that supreme happiness only comes in the world to come.

Amen.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

One Comment

  1. Linda says:

    Thank you for this blog. The prayer is beautiful and I was never aware of any part but the beginning. Honestly, the remainder of the prayer is the “best part”. Focusing on “now” and trusting God isn’t always easy. I know the Bible tells us again and again to Trust God. I hope everyone reading the blog including myself continues to pray for the strength and guidance needed to Trust God in all things.

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